Doing a few queries this morning, I’ve noticed a range of local sites being listed in Google alongside the regular SERPs for generic queries. Digging a bit deeper, this looks like much more than a personalised search feature, in fact Google seem to be emphasising local websites very heavily for competitive queries when completely logged out too.
Google have announced this week that they have applied 40 algorithm updates in Feb, with the Google Venice update rollout affecting local. So I’ve tested this out by performing the following queries in Incognito mode in Chrome – so hopefully this will restrict the amount of personalisation that is going on here. But Google does know my location – which is automatically set as Oxford. So I’ve compared the set of results for a range of queries – and have changed my location settings, from the automatic selection of Oxford – comparing this with Manchester.
Google UK SERPs Location Test: Oxford vs Manchester
Search Query = “Eye Test” Location = Oxford:
Search Query = “Eye Test” Location = Manchester:
So for very generic queries, you’ll find that location is now a key factor towards deciding which sites rank on the first page of Google organically. The comparison doesn’t end there either; competitive queries such as “pizza“, “doctors surgery“, “eye test“, “online dating“, “car mechanic” etc are all providing local variations in the Google SERPs.
How unique/location optimised does your content need to be?
I’ve taken a look at how well-optimised the Vision Express listings are for local queries, so here’s their Oxford pages content:
Looking at this as an example of a page that is ranking as a result of the Google Venice update, you can see they’ve pulled in a large amount of local content. Most notably:
Plus they have:
Is this a useful change?
What do you think about this? Do you want to find local results listed here? Is it useful, or would you prefer to see a higher quality non-local site listed instead? Plus what do you think about Google’s other local algorithm updates, such as switching to favour local domains over .coms (if you own both – e.g. Amazon/ebay) or Google’s rollout of the hreflang meta tag for international, but same language content?